Celtics lose ... in more ways than one

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Celtics lose ... in more ways than one

From Comcast SportsNet
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Boston Celtics lost Game 1 -- and they may have lost their floor leader for Game 2. Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the Atlanta Hawks built a big lead early, then held on for an 83-74 victory over the Celtics in their opener of the Eastern Conference playoffs Sunday night. But this one will be remembered for what happened in the final minute, not the Hawks' blistering start. While complaining about a call, Boston star Rajon Rondo was ejected for bumping an official and faces a possible suspension when the teams meet again Tuesday night in Atlanta. "I didn't intentionally chest-bump him, but that's what it appears to be," Rondo said. The Hawks, who led by as many as 19 in the first half, were clinging to a four-point lead when Rondo lost his cool with 41 seconds remaining. Boston's Brandon Bass was called for a foul on Smith tussling for a loose ball, with both players sprawled on the court out beyond the foul line. Rondo screamed at official Marc Davis, who quickly called a technical. Rondo then bumped Davis with his chest and was tossed out. A suspension could be coming, too. Rondo, who scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists, clearly appeared to stick out his chest to strike the official. That's a huge no-no and will almost surely draw the wrath of NBA Commissioner David Stern. "It's out of my control," Rondo said. "Obviously, I want to be there for my teammates but other than that, it's out of my control." Getting in some immediate lobbying, Celtics coach Doc Rivers saw things a bit differently than the replay showed. Not surprisingly, he doesn't think Rondo deserves a suspension. "I'm always worried, but I would be surprised if that happens," Rivers said. "I thought Rondo was walking toward Marc, and Marc turned back toward him, and that's when Rondo bumped him. ... That's all it was, in my opinion. But we'll see." Rondo had a similar take. "Obviously I was upset about the call and I said some words to Marc. I deserved the first tech," Rondo said. "As I was walking, I thought he stopped. My momentum carried me into him. I even think I tripped on his foot." At the beginning, the Hawks looked much quicker and faster than the aging Celtics. With every starter outside of Jason Collins contributing at least four points, Atlanta raced to a 20-6 lead with the game just over 5 minutes old. The Hawks twice pushed the margin as high as 19 points and settled for a 49-35 edge at halftime. Smith totally outplayed Boston's Kevin Garnett over the first two quarters, going into the break with 15 points, 11 rebounds and two assists. Garnett had only two points on 1-of-9 shooting. "He was an animal," Atlanta coach Larry Drew said of Smith. "When he's playing with that energy, he just makes us so much better." Smith had to carry the load. The Hawks' other big gun, Joe Johnson, had a miserable night with 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting, committing more turnovers (four) than he made field goals. He was 0 of 9 from 3-point range. The Hawks got sloppy with the ball and made only 19-of-54 shots after their blistering performance in opening quarter. That allowed the Celtics to edge back into the game, and it looked as though they might just pull off the comeback until Rondo's big blunder. "We came out like our jerseys were going to win the game, because we're the Celtics," Rivers said. "You've got to play to win the game." Smith said he was definitely fouled as he scrambled for the loose ball with Bass. "That was the right call they made," Smith said of the potentially series-altering play. "I'm not sure what happened with Rondo. That will be up to the league to see what he did wrong. You never know what's going to happen, but we'll definitely factor him in going to tomorrow." Garnett bounced back to put up 20 points and 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce had only 12 points, going 5 of 19 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts. "For us to win, I have to be a better player," Pierce said. "I was a really big culprit." Both teams were short-handed. Celtics guard Ray Allen missed a playoff game for the first time in his career, watching from the bench in a suit and tie because of an ailing right ankle. He would've already had surgery if it was earlier in the year, but the 36-year-old member of Boston's Big Three is hoping to heal in time for possibly his last hurrah in Beantown. The Hawks, meanwhile, started third-stringer Collins at center. Al Horford missed most of the year with a pectoral injury and has been ruled out for the entire series, and the guy who took his place, rugged Zaza Pachulia, went down late in the regular season with a sprained left foot. Pachulia famously went forehead-to-forehead with Garnett during an opening-round series in 2008, and the Hawks wondered how they would fare without the Georgian's toughness. Just fine, it turned out. Of course, the teams were much more closely matched heading into this series than they were in their last playoff meeting. In 2008, the Celtics won 66 games and were the top seed in the East, setting up for a run to their most recent NBA championship. The Hawks were the eighth seed, a team that went 37-45 and made the postseason for the first time in nine years. Still, they managed to push the Celtics to seven games. This time, Boston won the season series 2-1, the three games decided by a total of 10 points, and Atlanta finished one game ahead in the conference standings to earn home-court advantage. Now the big question is: Will Rondo get to play in Game 2? "I don't think it was on purpose," Pierce said, "but it's up to the league." NOTES: Allen and Pachulia are both listed as day-to-day. ... The Hawks have never beaten Boston in the playoffs since moving to Atlanta in 1968, losing six straight postseason meetings. ... The teams met four times in the finals when the Hawks were based in St. Louis. Boston won three of those series, the Hawks only playoff win over the Celtics a 4-2 triumph to capture the title in 1958.

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VIDEO: Tony Romo exits Cowboys preseason game with apparent back injury

VIDEO: Tony Romo exits Cowboys preseason game with apparent back injury

Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Tony Romo has a lengthy medical history.

Despite rookie quarterback Dak Prescott's strong play early in the preseason, the last thing the Cowboys needed was another injury to their franchise quarterback.

RELATED: A GUIDE TO DRAFTING FANTASY FOOTBALL QBS

On Thursday night, early in the Cowboys' preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Romo attempted to slide safely to the turf.

As he went to the ground, he was awkwardly tackled from behind and crumpled up in pain.

Defensive end Frank Clark made a hard yet leagal tackle, but the angle of the tackle and Romo's slide combined for a painful scene.

Romo walked off the field on his own power but was immediately attended to by trainers as Prescott prepared to take over.

Romo was on the field for three plays before being hit by Clark.

The 36-year-old has played in all 16 games in just five of his ten NFL seasons as starting QB and missed all but four games last season after suffering a broken collerbone. 

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Jimenez was good, but Scherzer was too much for Orioles in series finale

Jimenez was good, but Scherzer was too much for Orioles in series finale

WASHINGTON — Thrust in the starting rotation because Chris Tillman is on the disabled list, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a creditable game on Thursday night. 

Jimenez’s issue was that Max Scherzer was nearly perfect. 

The Orioles had just two hits, and Jimenez was a hard-luck loser as the Washington Nationals beat the Orioles 4-0 before a sellout crowd of 39,722 at Nationals Park. 

After winning the first three games against the Nationals (74-53), the Orioles (70-57) were shut down completely by the great Scherzer, who struck out 10 in eight innings without walking a batter. He threw 95 pitches. 

Jimenez allowed one run on five hits, striking out four without walking a batter,

Scherzer (14-7) quickly retired the first nine Orioles, striking out six of them before Adam Jones doubled to left, leading off the fourth. That was the Orioles’ only baserunner. 

After setting down the next 12, Mark Trumbo singled to lead off the eighth. He stole second, the Orioles first steal since Aug. 3, but stayed at second as Scherzer struck out Jonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters before J.J. Hardy flied to center. 

Jimenez (5-11) gave up one hit in the first three innings, a single to Anthony Rendon with one out in the second. 

Jayson Werth led off the fourth with a long home run to center field, and the Nationals had a 1-0 lead.  

Logan Ondrusek, who was recalled earlier in the day from Bowie, allowed three runs in the eighth inning. 

Trea Turner, who was 10-for-13 in the last three games of the series, singled to begin the inning. Werth singled, and Daniel Murphy doubled down the right field line to score Turner. Bryce Harper’s double scored two more for a 4-0 lead. 

Hyun Soo Kim led off the ninth with a double off Mark Melancon, and then Pedro Alvarez hit for Jones and grounded out. Steve Pearce flied to right, and Manny Machado grounded to third. 

NOTES: T.J. McFarland threw a perfect inning for Bowie. … The Nationals stole two bases off Ubaldo Jimenez. Opposing base stealers are 20-for-23 against Jimenez. … The Orioles open a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 5.08) faces Luis Cessa (3-0, 4.01).  

RELATED: ORIOLES MAKING POSTSEASON PLANS

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Scherzer returns to dominant form to end Nats' losing streak vs. Orioles

Scherzer returns to dominant form to end Nats' losing streak vs. Orioles

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: In order for the Nationals to finally beat the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night, Max Scherzer had to pull out all the tricks.

Per usual, he dazzled with his electric fastball, sometimes as an out-pitch, sometimes simply to set up his breaking stuff. He didn't allow a baserunner until the fourth inning and struck out seven of the first eight batters he faced.

Scherzer even fielded a groundball through his legs, from behind. Like, he was turned and facing the outfield, reached down and grabbed the ball, then threw it to first.

Now, that's something you don't see every day. What you do see often, is the dominance Scherzer displayed on Thursday night. He ended up going eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks along the way. That performance led the Nats to a win, their first against the Orioles in their last seven tries.

Jayson Werth put them on the board in the fourth inning with a solo homer to center field off O's starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez was actually pretty good, as he usually is against the Nats. He went six innings with just one run allowed on five hits and no walks. He now has a 2.24 ERA in nine career starts against the Nats.

Daniel Murphy added another run on an RBI single in the eighth. He drove a hard groundball down the first base line to score Trea Turner and notch his 96th RBI of the season. Bryce Harper added a two-RBI double to opposite field in the eighth inning to give the Nats some extra insurance.

The Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak with the win and prevented the Orioles from handing them their first sweep since June 20-22 against the Dodgers.

What it means: The Nationals got back in the win column to move to 74-53 on the year.

Scherzer ties his own record: With 10 strikeouts on Thursday night, Scherzer notched his 11th double-digit strikeout game of the year. That leads the majors and matches the Nationals club record for a single season. Scherzer, in fact, tied his own record, set last season. Thursday night was Scherzer's 47th career double-digit strikeout performance.

Werth hits No. 17: Werth obliterated an 89 mile per hour fastball to dead center off Jimenez for his 17th home run of the season. The ball traveled 436 feet and ricocheted off the green wall in the groundskeepers pen. For Werth, it was fifth homer of August, a season-high for one month for the Nats left fielder. He had four homers in April and May, and had just four total between June and July. His 17 are the most he's hit in a year since 2013, when he finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Harper hits two marks: Harper reached two mini-milestones on Thursday night. One was his 18th steal of the season, which matches the career-high he set as a rookie back in 2012. Harper only had 19 total steals from 2013 through 2015. Now that he's healthy and under the tutelage of first base coach Davey Lopes, he's returned to being a significant threat on the basepaths.

Harper also singled and landed an RBI double and has now reached base in all 12 games since he returned from his neck injury nearly two weeks ago. He's 18-for-46 (.391) with 13 RBI overall during that stretch. The single on Thursday gave him his 100th hit of the season in his 117th game. He got to No. 100 in his 89th game last year.

Up next: The Nats next host the Colorado Rockies, who won two out of three in their series at Coors Field earlier this month. Gio Gonzalez (8-9 4.30) will get the start opposite right-hander Jeff Hoffman (0-1, 13.50) in the Friday night opener.

[RELATED: Strasburg plays catch, Nats say injury not in area of Tommy John surgery]

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